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NHL 2016-17

A categorical look at the NHL’s superlatives

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins celebrated another Stanley Cup in 2015-16.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins celebrated another Stanley Cup in 2015-16.(AP)

One man’s choices for the best the NHL has to offer:Best of the best

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. Still the NHL’s gold standard.

2. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles. Does everything right.

3. Patrice Bergeron, Boston. A coach’s dream.

Best smile

1. Brent Burns, San Jose. Not a tooth in sight.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington. Happiest scorer in the league.

3. Tyler Seguin, Dallas. Laughs every time he thinks of the Bruins’ return from Dallas.

San Jose’s Brent Burns: Say cheese.
San Jose’s Brent Burns: Say cheese.(AP)

Best frown

1. Mike Babcock, Toronto. You don’t want to be on the receiving end.

2. Michel Therrien, Montreal. Plenty of it last year.

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3. Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles. Only smiles in private.

Toronto’s Mike Babcock: Don’t make him angry.
Toronto’s Mike Babcock: Don’t make him angry.(AP)

Best pending trade acquisitions

1. Jarome Iginla, Colorado. Pittsburgh redux?

2. Alex Burrows, Vancouver. Can still play. And bite.

3. Dennis Wideman, Calgary. Might deck a ref en route to the airport.

Colorado’s Jarome Iginla: Going places?
Colorado’s Jarome Iginla: Going places?(AP)

Best genes

1. Paul Stastny, St. Louis. Better pick it up to join old man Peter in the Hall of Fame.

2. Max Domi, Arizona. Silky hands compared with father Tie’s granite blocks.

3. William Nylander, Toronto. Sees everything on the ice like father Michael.

St. Louis’s Paul Stastny: Work to do.
St. Louis’s Paul Stastny: Work to do.(Getty)

Best Danes

1. Frans Nielsen, Detroit. Very good all-around center.

2. Lars Eller, Washington. Not afraid to get dirty.

3. Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg. More flammable than the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Detroit’s Frans Nielsen: Great Dane.
Detroit’s Frans Nielsen: Great Dane.(Getty)

Best bargains

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton. Will make 10 times his $925,000 annual salary on his next deal.

2. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh. A Cup-winning goalie making $620,000. Not bad.

3. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa. Earning $6.5 million annually and still underpaid.

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid: Slick Oiler.
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid: Slick Oiler.(AP)

Best mask

1. John Gibson, Anaheim. Duck hunt lovers rejoice.

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2. Corey Crawford, Chicago. Takes confidence to own both black and white lids.

3. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay. Last year of wearing glow-in-the-dark Lightning colors.

Anaheim’s John Gibson: Just Ducky.
Anaheim’s John Gibson: Just Ducky.(AP)

Best future Las Vegas goalie

1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh. Can still play. Just bypassed by a younger, cheaper, and better Matt Murray.

2. Antti Raanta, Rangers. Finally, some ice time after being Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.

3. Cam Ward, Carolina. Hurricanes wouldn’t cry if ex-Conn Smythe winner gets picked.

Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury: Slotted for Vegas?
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury: Slotted for Vegas?(AP)

Best rookies

1. Auston Matthews, Toronto. Calder favorite, barring injury.

2. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg. Loves to shoot.

3. Mitch Marner, Toronto. Scores from everywhere.

Toronto’s Auston Matthews: New Leaf.
Toronto’s Auston Matthews: New Leaf.(getty)

Best pending retiree

1. Patrik Elias, New Jersey. Still in limbo following knee surgery.

2. Marc Savard, New Jersey. Ex-Bruin’s contract finally expires after this season.

3. Jaromir Jagr, Florida. Yeah right. He’s only turning 45 in February.

New Jersey’s Patrik Elias: Near the end?
New Jersey’s Patrik Elias: Near the end?(USA Today)

Best player with two first names

1. Jamie Benn, Dallas. Best left wing in the league.

2. Duncan Keith, Chicago. Sitting out World Cup will pay off.

3. Bobby Ryan, Ottawa. Dangerous when he gets hot.

Dallas’s Jamie Benn: A shining Star.
Dallas’s Jamie Benn: A shining Star.(AP)

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.